Monday, November 23, 2009

The Sudbury Fight: Haynes Garrison, Sudbury and Wayland, MA

One hundred years before the conflict in Lexington and Concord, the sound of battle could be heard in communities nearby. Metacom - Philip to many English settlers - was the sachem of the Wampanoag tribe. While the Wampanoags and English settlers had coexisted for many decades, that peace was shattered in 1675. By April, the desperation and fear in the communities outside of Boston was considerable.

Death, destruction and kidnappings by the marauding Indians were to be found in many of the communities west of Boston. Sudbury had at least six garrisons that offered reinforced shelter to those seeking sanctuary from attack. On or about April 20, 1675, a serious assault on the Sudbury settlement began; the dates differ in various accounts.

The estimates of the size of the force bearing down on these garrisons vary considerably. Some say it was 1,500 native Americans, including women. Others estimate that it was 500 warriors. This much is true: the Sudbury settlers were out-manned, out-gunned and surrounded.

One of the garrisons was the Haynes garrison that stood close by the Sudbury River on "Water Row". A visitor today can see that it is not a place that one would want to have as a battle site - and certainly not an easy place for any rescuers. At one point, the warriors set a wagon filled with hay on fire and propelled it toward the garrison house. The terrified inhabitants of the house were saved - by the grace of God, according to their accounts.

The Haynes garrison survived the attack that day and stood until 1876. One can see what the structure looked like from the portrait of the Haynes garrison taken from Alfred Hudson's The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts, 1638-1889.

Today the remains of the foundation still stand at the site. Behind to the left is the foundation of a barn as well. Somewhat incongruously, there is a picnic table now sitting next to the foundation where so much fighting once took place.

The site of the Haynes garrison is adjacent to the King Philip's Woods Conservation Land.

Just across the river is a now desolate marker standing near the Wayland Country Club. The marker designates the area where about 10 (in their history of the war, the Mathers say 12) would-be rescuers from Concord were slaughtered as they sought to come to the aid of the Haynes Garrison. Perhaps a dozen or so men left Concord to try to help the fight in Sudbury. Even though the settlers knew something about the size and sophistication of the Indian attacks, these men marched off - bravely or recklessly - to Sudbury.

In James Drake's provocative view of the War, the difference in war tactics and weaponry is discussed. It is hard to see how the Concord men had any chance of success. Some accounts have one man being captured and later tortured. Other accounts have one or two survivors reaching the safety of the garrison house. It must have been a terrifying ordeal with death as relief.

The marker is at the end of a road slightly to the left of the entrance to the Wayland golf course parking lot. It is largely abandoned and overgrown. Given its history and the bodies nearby, it might one day be a nice spot for a memorial garden.

This road is connected to the picturesque Four Arch bridge that is closed to the public.

It should be noted that many more Concord men died in this fight against the Indians in 1675 than did on April 19, 1775.

The fighting in Sudbury was more widespread than just by the Sudbury River. I will discuss that more on another day.


  1. Great post! I have actually been to this site - there is a Geo-cache there that my family did. And we drive down Water Row on the way to the High School.

  2. Awessome post! Thank you for sharing...
    I would like to follow this blog, you should put a RSS widget up.

  3. Thanks for the comment and the suggestion. I'm still learning this blog stuff. I think I added the appropriate gadget that will allow someone to follow this.

  4. Im curious what ever happened to the Garrison site since. My friend does real estate in Wayland MA and has often mentioned the conflict over the place before.

  5. I ride past this site on training rides a couple of times a month. I stopped for the first time today and just needed to know more (I am not from the area originally, so I knew nothing about King Philip's War). Thanks for the great post, I look forward to reading your others to see if I'm missing other great historical sites along my bike routes!

  6. I would love to know more about the Haynes Garrison house, it is the ancestral home of my 10th great grandfather, Deacon, John Haynes. I am a Haynes by birth and this bit of information would be perfect for the family history/genealogy I'm compiling.

    1. Here's a link to the family history of Walter Haynes (my 10-great grandfather and father of Deacon John Haynes)

    2. Dear Anonymous, I too am a direct descendant of Deacon John Haynes, actually twice he's my 8th (on my grandfather's direct line) and my 10th (on my grandmother's line). My email address is I'm willing to share info, we're apparently distant cousins. :D

    3. I am a Decendant of Deacon John Haynes as well. My mother was a Haynes. Her Aunts helped compile the popular family history book that was published in the 1920's. Hey, cousins... :-)